Title: From Upstairs to Downstairs
Author: J.P. Bowie
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Length: 182 Pages
At a Glance: From Upstairs to Downstairs was a nice historical romance that left me wanting just a bit more plot development but definitely delivered on the romance aspect.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Edward Lazenby has it all – a rich grandfather, a beautiful home, days spent riding his favorite horse in Hyde Park. What he doesn’t have, and feels he never will, is handsome Thomas Marsden, a man who, at first, seems repulsed by Edward’s forwardness when they meet. Dalliances with members of the same sex in Victorian England can lead to scandal or even imprisonment, so Edward and a few close friends have formed their own Club where they can meet without fear of persecution.
When Edward’s grandfather dies, Edward is heir to his estate but before he can lay claim to it, he is brutally assaulted, his injuries resulting in complete memory loss. Months later, Thomas Marsden finds him working as a stable boy on a country estate. Thomas takes him back to London, hoping to find a way to have Edward’s memory restored to him, and remind him that just before he disappeared, they had declared their affection for each other.
Can the two men build a life together or will Edward’s disability be too much of a hurdle to happiness?
Review: Edward has never really had a father figure in his life, other than his grandfather, who loves him dearly. When he dies, Edward is devastated and is also forced to leave behind his rather aimless ways to embrace being the lord of the manor. However, before he can assume his title, he is violently set upon during a morning ride, and ends up as a stable boy with no memory of his former life. Were it not for a friend who had been on the cusp of becoming Edward’s lover, he might have never been found on the country estate.
Thomas Marsden had fallen for Edward almost after their first encounter. When Edward disappears and is thought to be dead, Thomas never gives up hope of his being recovered. When he discovers Edward with no memory, he immediately brings him home and cares for him as he slowly recovers. But the danger that befell Edward is not gone, and Thomas may yet lose the man he loves.
J.P. Bowie offers us a sweet historical romance in his latest release, From Upstairs to Downstairs. The tender relationship between Thomas and Edward stands out as the real winner in this novel. While it gives a nod to the danger such a coupling would have found in this time period, it dwells more on their growing love for each other and allows for a romance that builds slowly.
However, there are two things that hold me back from giving this historical romance top marks. The first is the apparent and, I feel, rather clumsy contrivance of making nearly everyone surrounding Edward and Thomas men of the same sexual persuasion. I understood the two best friends and their clandestine “club” where Edward could be free to be himself, but I had to draw the line when seemingly every other male that could somehow help Edward throughout this novel was also gay. To me, that began to feel forced and just too convenient to ring true.
The second element was more one of personal taste, and it had to do with the lack of time spent with Edward after his memory loss. I wanted more of the story from the viewpoint of him struggling to adjust to his daily life while at the stables. I loved the interaction between him and Thomas, but I felt the story skimmed too quickly over Edward’s months as a servant in order to give us more of their building relationship. I admit I really enjoyed their times together, and loved the romance arc of the story, but I felt the entire novel would have felt so much more complete with a bit more story involving the hardships Edward endured.
What really made this novel sing were the scenes where we moved away from the bedroom and intimacy between the two men, and focused on the unraveling of the mystery behind who attacked Edward. While I thoroughly enjoyed the romance between our two main characters, I loved the action sequences and bits of drama that made the plot move that much swifter. In the end, From Upstairs to Downstairs was a nice historical romance that left me wanting just a bit more plot development but definitely delivered on the romance aspect.
You can buy From Upstairs to Downstairs here: